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Watch: Maltese weightlifters forced to enter 15-day quarantine after Health Authorities U-turn on exemption

Yazmin Zammit Stevens poses with her medal along with MWA president Jesmond Caruana

The Malta Weightlifting Association contingent that has recently successfully taken part at the IWF World and Commonwealth Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan were forced to enter a 15-day quarantine after the Health Authorities made a U-turn on their decision to give them an exemption on quarantine.

Last weekend, the Malta Weightlifting Association had its largest-ever contingent as it was represented by four lifters in the championships held at the dark-red-listed country Uzbekistan, namely Tenishia Thornton, Yazmin Zammit Stevens, Anton Micallef, and Roberta Tabone.

Thornton and Zammit Stevens had a very successful participation after they managed to return home with a medal after placing third in the Commonwealth Championships.

The Maltese contingent was granted a quarantine exemption upon return to Malta subject to a long list of rules that they had to follow while in Uzbekistan and also when they arrive back in Malta.

The team made up of four athletes and two coaches were told to stay in one bubble while at the championships and only leave their hotel rooms for training and/or competition. They also performed a PCR test before leaving Uzbekistan and had to pre-book additional swab tests on Day 4, 8 and 12 upon arrival.

This with some other rules regarding their whereabouts when back in Malta were all factors the Maltese Weightlifting contingent had agreed upon prior to traveling to the World Championships.

To their shock, when the entire team had already arrived in Uzbekistan, they received an email from the Health Authorities stating that they would no longer be exempted from quarantine upon arrival.

Left with absolutely no options whatsoever, the team has now travelled back and forced to quarantine over the Christmas holidays despite prior agreements.

Exemptions to sports associations have been granted in the past against very strict rules, given the nature of their travels.

The MWA had to travel for these championships as they are part of their qualification process for the upcoming Commonwealth Games which is one of the most prestigious sporting events for our country.

Contacted by the Times of Malta, Zammit Stevens said that the entire team had been careful throughout the entire preparation process prior to these championships, where they trained in the same bubble and made certain not to be involved in social events; while also maintaining this behaviour at the meet.

“We’ve already sacrificed so much to represent our country, and do our best to bring back honour with this medal, and we feel truly betrayed by the reversal of the exemption on such short notice,” Zammit Stevens said.

“We were never even given the option not to go prior to leaving, they left it until we were already there to give us the news.

“As an international athlete, competing is part of my job. I can’t represent my country at the Games next year if I don’t do the qualification process – this wasn’t a holiday for us.”

Sixteen-year-old Thornton will also have to miss school and training for yet another qualification event in only seven weeks, albeit it is likely that she will have to skip the competition due to this inconvenience.

This is the second time the Malta Weightlifting Association have been subject to quarantine already this year when they weren’t granted an exemption after traveling to Russia in April to compete at the European Championships; a competition that eventually helped Zammit Stevens get to the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.

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